Intuitive and Objective Approaches to Daylighting a New England Elementary School
The Town of Concord, Massachusetts faced the challenge of building an entirely new school on the same site as its (still operating but eventually to be demolished) predecessor school. This new learning environment would become the home for approximately 400 kindergarten thru 5th grade elementary school children and their associated staff. It would also become the recreational and community center for the surrounding neighborhood.
Together, this community of neighbors, parents, educational professionals and town elders established two over-arching goals for their new school: First, it had to be a superb and holistic learning environment. Second, it had to be designed to achieve high performance under two sustainable building rating systems - a Silver level under LEED for Schools and a minimum of 34 points under MA-CHPS2.
Daylighting strategies played a key role in meeting these goals and they played the essential role in integrating them. Everything from the school’s placement and orientation on the site, the shape of its unique footprint, the development of the building’s cross sections, the educational programming for each space, the building’s mechanical / electrical systems and the architectural details / aesthetics were all about light, ambient light levels and light controls. Windows, skylights, roof monitors, clerestories, transom glazing, light shafts, and interior glazing of all sorts were strategically employed to create highly functioning and lovely daylit spaces throughout. Even an analemma and sundial worked their way into the design.